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Rubenstein: Close encounters of the golfing kind Add to ...

ORLANDO - The PGA Merchandise Show is all about running into people. I’ve been trying to get away for a few hours today to make the two and a half hour drive back to Jupiter, where I live in the winter. But I’ve been waylaid, happily, by a series of close encounters of the golfing kind.

First I ran into Barney Adams, the genius behind the Adams line of golf clubs. He’s done okay for himself, to say the least. I remember running into Adams years ago when he had a tiny booth on the massive exhibition floor. He was hoping a few people would drop by to check out his Tight Lies clubs. Adams cashed out of the company a few years ago, and now spends much of his time bone-fishing in various exotic locals, golfing at Pine Valley, where he’s a member, and wintering at Indian Wells in the Palm Springs, Calif. area.

Adams also is devoted to encouraging golfers to take up his Tee it Forward idea. He believes golfers would enjoy the game more if they played from age and ability-appropriate tees, and has been doing interviews at the PGA Show to move his idea further, well, forward. It was good to run into Adams, a man on a mission. He’s an avid reader and he asked me if I was aware of the books that Brad Smith, from Dunnville, Ont. has written. Smith has written a series of mysteries that include golf scenes, Adams told me while suggesting I would enjoy Busted Flush in particular. Good for Adams for pointing out a Canadian writer. Here’s Smith’s website: bradsmithbooks.com.

We finished chatting and I tried to leave. Again. But I ran into Robert Trent Jones Jr., the well-known architect who is one of the eight contenders in the running for the contract to design the course in Brazil that will host the 2016 Olympics. Jones is on tenterhooks as he awaits the result of the competition to win the prize. The winning bid will soon be announced. Jones is partnering with the famous Brazilian golf pro - well, famous in Brazil and among golf aficionados - in his bid. John Paul Newport, the Wall Street Journal’s erudite golf writer - and an excellent player - wrote about the competition here.

While Jones and I were talking, he introduced me to Susan Marples De Achaval, whose card informed me that she is the “Coordinator Producto Golf, Ministerio de Turismo, Republica Argentina". Jones, a well-read fellow, like Barney Adams, also fancies himself a poet. He handed Susan a bit of doggerel he’s written about the current craziness in the competition for the Republican nomination, which is, shall we say, heated here in Florida in advance of the state’s Jan. 31st primary. Jones is a Democrat. There aren’t many folks of that political persuasion in the higher reaches of American golf.

Jones was schmoozing away with various folks who dropped by, when, behind him, I noticed Richard Wax. Here is a man of cosmopolitan tastes. He worked with Jones from 1984-1995, based out of their London, England office. Wax hails from Lytham St. Annes, where the Open Championship will be held this July. He plays a nifty brand of golf, having learned the game from Mindy Blake. Blake wrote The Golf Swing of the Future and Golf: The Technique Barrier. Suffice to say that the Blakeian swing involves a rather different way of standing to the ball, for starters.

“I was playing with Bobby at La Manga once,” Wax said of a game he’s had with Jones at the Spanish resort that has three courses. “I was ready to play my shot when Bobby asked, ‘Which course are you playing?” As I said, the golf swing of the future, which works well for Wax, points a player in an unusual direction.

Wax, meanwhile, is pointing towards the St. Andrews Golf Festival. He and his associate Roger McStravick have organized this inaugural event that will take place in St. Andrews March 28-April 1. This promises to be a golf extravaganza. McStravick, by the way, holds an MSc in golf course architecture from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. He’s been at the PGA Show with Wax.

Wax and McStravick have been talking up the Festival. Well the PGA Show is all about talking up business. I’ve been talking up some of my own, by handing out postcards about my upcoming book Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius. McStravick wanted to buy one right way, but, alas, I had to tell him the book won’t be published until April 1. Shameless plug, I know. Forgive me. I’m at the PGA Merchandise Show, after all.

The festival at the show continued. Wax asked me if I knew Ben Cowan-Dewar, the 32-year-old fellow behind Cabot Links in Cape Breton. The much-anticipated links will open June 29th. Of course I know the gentleman. And what do you know, like magic, he was approaching in his lilac sweater from behind Wax, as if summoned. (Lilac is a very hot colour at the PGA Show).

“I’ve been trying to meet Ben,” Wax said. “Well, here, meet him,” I said, turning Wax around to meet him. I made the introduction.

And then I escaped from the PGA Show, to the Barnes and Noble bookstore where I’ve written this piece. Clearly, the only way to stop running into people, and to write about the PGA Show, is to leave it.

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Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and, most recently, he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including The Natural Golf Swing, with George Knudson (1988); Links: An Insider’s Tour Through the World of Golf (1990); The Swing, with Nick Price (1997); The Fundamentals of Hogan, with David Leadbetter (2000); A Season in Dornoch: Golf and Life in the Scottish Highlands (2001); Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at rube@sympatico.ca . You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein

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